Minnehaha Academy win puts Grassroots Hoops Club in spotlight

A local basketball club aimed at keeping young men off the streets has had a lot of success this season. Tonight, several of the club's members played one of the biggest games of their lives at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

And, it appears they've proven their shoes were made for winning.

Fox 9 first covered the Grassroots Hoops Club in April when St. Paul police and Nike donated sneakers to its members. On Wednesday, at least four club members helped their high school team, Minnehaha Academy, advance in the Minnesota State High School Tournament downtown.

“They’re tough players. They’re competitive players,” said Minnehaha Academy boys basketball coach Lance Johnson.

Grit, sweat and determination exuded from the Minnehaha Academy boys’ as tjeu beat Lake City 77-63. It’s the first state tournament they’ve made it to in four years.

Players Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson and Terry Lockett are only three of the total 13 members in the Grassroots Hoops Club who also play for Minnehaha.

“It makes us all better players,” Kaden Johnson said of how his time with the club has fortified his skills.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re here now and we’re trying to do something with it,” Lockett added of Minnehaha Academy advancing in the state tournament this year.

Minnehaha coach Lance Johnson said he feels the club has brought more talent to his team.

“From that program, these kids have done very well academically and socially,” Johnson said. “They're great kids. That's more important to me than the basketball aspect.”

The club was started by executive director Brian Sandifer and his father 16 years ago with the priority of keeping young men in school and focused on the future.

“I’m real pumped up, real energetic, ready to play, just leaving everything I got on the floor, 100 percent,” Suggs said. 

“Our bond on and off the court is impeccable,” Lockett said. “I love these guys, we all know our capabilities and what we can do, and we take it from there and play basketball.”

Minnehaha Academy will play Annandale on Friday, and if they win, they will play for the championship on Saturday.